I must confess that I’m an impatient maker of yeast breads. I like my mix tapes to be all rise but not my bread recipes. Luckily for me, I live in Hawaii, where the humid climate and year-round warmth allow me a great deal of liberty in this department (and before you clock me in the comments section, I’m lucky to live here for more than the bread-making benefits. It is on the list though).
I adapted this crusty bread from the Land O’Lakes website, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. In many parts of the recipe, I halved the rising times based upon my own intuition about the dough. I suspect that those baking in less humid climates will be able to adjust their rise times accordingly, using mine as a guidepost while evaluating the size and elasticity of the dough.
We begin by blooming yeast (doesn’t that sound fun?) in warm water with sugar. This process activates some sort of groovy enzymatic reaction wherein the yeast consumes the sugar and expels carbon dioxide. This is why you should see little bubbles forming in your yeast mixture. See: I told you this was fun. The original recipe allowed the yeast to rest for 45 minutes, but mine was blooming and ready to go after 10.
Next we add flour, starting with 3 cups and beating until smooth. Continue adding flour until the dough is easy to handle—this will be somewhere on the spectrum of 5 to 5 1/2 cups. Now you can either turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or you can affix your trusty Kitchenaid with its dough hook and allow it to do the work for you (my preferred method—I even bloom the yeast in the mixing bowl to save on dishes). The dough will be tacky and stick to your hands or the bowl at first, so don’t give up until it’s smooth.
The dough should now be wonderfully elastic but not too sticky. Coat the bottom of your original bowl with olive oil and drop in the dough wad. Turn the dough oil side up and cover, allowing to rest for approximately 45 minutes in a warm corner of your kitchen. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s doubled in size and doesn’t spring back when you poke it.
Now picture your high-school nemesis or least favorite Kardashian and punch the dough down. Divide this into loaves on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet: I made 4, but they were rather large (as pictured). You could reasonably divide this into 8 small loaves without sacrificing the integrity. It really depends on preference. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Make an egg wash by combining the egg and milk in a small bowl. Score the loaves with a serrated knife, cutting 3-5 diagonal slits across the top of each. Brush the loaves with egg wash and dust with kosher or sea salt (I used fleur de sel because Beckie bought some to make caramel, and using it makes me feel like a baller. That stuff is handpicked!). Bake for 25-40 minutes (my oven runs notoriously cold, so I recommend checking at 25 minutes and deciding from there) until loaves are that golden brown we all lust over. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter or olive oil.
- ¼ ounce active dry yeast (1 package)
- 2¼ cups warm water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 5 - 5½ cups flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp milk, cream, or water
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- In a large bowl, combine yeast with warm water. Mix in sugar and let stand 10-20 minutes, until mixture froths visibly.
- Beat in the first 3 cups of flour and salt. Continue adding flour until dough is easy to handle, 5 to 5½ cups of flour total.
- Turn dough out onto floured work surface or into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Knead or work dough for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
- Grease the bowl from above with olive oil and deposit dough within. Turn dough oil-side up and cover. Allow to rest in a warm corner of the kitchen until dough has doubled in size and doesn’t spring back when touched, approximately 45 minutes.
- Punch down dough and divide into loaves (as few as 2 or as many as 8) on greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, approximately 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together egg and milk or water in a small bowl to create wash. Brush tops and sides of loaves. With a serrated bread knife, cut 3-5 diagonal vents in each loaf. Sprinkle with kosher or sea salt as desired.
- Bake for 25-40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove loaves from oven and brush with melted butter. Allow to cool on wire racks.